Poll: Clinton, Trump in virtual dead heat on eve of first debate

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will meet Monday night for their first debate in a virtual dead heat in the race for the White House, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, with the Democratic nominee’s August advantage erased after recent difficulties and the GOP nominee still facing doubts about his qualifications and temperament.

Likely voters split 46 percent for Clinton and 44 percent for Trump, with Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson at 5 percent and Green Party nominee Jill Stein at 1 percent. Among registered voters, Clinton and Trump are tied at 41 percent, with Johnson at 7 percent and Stein at 2 percent.

In a two-way matchup between the major-party nominees, Clinton tops Trump by 49 percent to 47 percent among likely voters, and the two are tied at 46 percent among all registered voters. Clinton’s two-point edge among likely voters, in both the four-way and two-way ballot tests, is within the survey’s 4.5 percentage-point margin of sampling error.

The findings underscore how much the presidential contest has tightened in recent weeks, after Clinton emerged from the two national conventions with a clear lead and with Trump on the defensive. In early September, Clinton led Trump by five points among likely voters. In early August, she led by eight points.

As Clinton has run into some turbulence, Trump has worked to present himself as a more disciplined candidate in an effort to attract more support from voters who traditionally have supported Republican nominees.